The Museum of Ordinary People: a book that didn’t fit any category I usually read, but sounded as if I’d really enjoy it. Right on both counts, as it turns out. Thank you to NetGalley and to the publishers for allowing me an ARC (which was perfectly formatted).

The Museum of Ordinary People

by Mike Gayle

The superb new novel from the bestselling author of Half A World Away and All the Lonely People.

Still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, Jess is about to do the hardest thing she’s ever done: empty her childhood home so that it can be sold.

But when in the process Jess stumbles across the mysterious Alex, together they become custodians of a strange archive of letters, photographs, curios and collections known as The Museum of Ordinary People.

As they begin to delve into the history of the objects in their care, Alex and Jess not only unravel heartbreaking stories that span generations and continents, but also unearth long buried secrets that lie much closer to home.

Inspired by a box of mementos found abandoned in a skip following a house clearance, The Museum of Ordinary People is a thought-provoking and poignant story of memory, grief, loss and the things we leave behind. (goodreads)

My Review

There are plenty of people who will empathise with Jess as she goes through the pain of clearing her mother’s house for sale. So many things in this book are so ordinary, that so many of us go through. Yet the author presents them in such a way to give us fresh eyes and engage us with the process.

The plot is not really anything out of the ordinary. But the way Mike Gayle has presented it, and embellished it with the wondrous collection of ordinary objects that someone loved, but couldn’t keep, makes it a stand-out novel for me.

Throughout the opening few chapters I wondered when Jess was going to stop fooling herself. But that is the nature of this type of book. We get ourselves thoroughly involved in what she should do, and then things fall apart in even more ways than we’d imagined. Then it gets worse. We almost think it will all come to nothing. In many ways this could be a rom-com with Hugh Grant, or a Bridget Jones for a new generation. It is a really enjoyable take on modern life in London and all that goes with it. Deliver-ins and Ubers abound. But tracking down the mysteries within the museum, both human and and inanimate, lead us to some surprising secrets.

It was engrossing and enjoyable, and a breath of fresh air. Loved it – and gave it five stars.

Book Review | The Museum of Ordinary People by @Mike Gayle 'engrossing and enjoyable – a breath of fresh air' #5stars #TheMuseumofOrdinaryPeople #netgalley Share on X

Book Review | The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle
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2 thoughts on “Book Review | The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle

  • 9 July, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    What a wonderful review Jemima! Thank you for sharing this 😀

  • 9 July, 2022 at 6:50 pm

    Sounds good. And, yes, I can definitely empathise with the house clearing bit. The pile of Mum’s stuff in my hall has hardly diminished since we got rid of the house in January.

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